Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 14, 1959
NUMBER 2, PAGE 11b,13-14


Roy E. Gulley, 715 North 10th Street, Reading, Penna.: "Last November, I came here and held a short meeting for the small congregation here. I promised to go back to Texas and try to raise support to come back and work with them if possible, or return and support myself if I failed to raise support. Since I was unable to find congregations who would help preach the gospel here, I returned on March 15 to begin work with the congregation. I came without support and hope through God's care to provide for my own through my own efforts. We have about a dozen members in a metropolitan area of about 200,000 population. We have adequate auditorium, class room and preachers apartment space. Contribution runs about $260 per month and expenses run over $250 per month. Outside support would be greatly appreciated and wisely used. These brethren are solid conservative and loyal. After I had promised to come work with them, a church that had refused me support because I was 'anti', offered these brethren $200 per month toward support of a preacher of that church's approval. These brethren did not accept it since they could see through it. Besides our need for support we also need a mimeograph machine. Is there a congregation somewhere that has an old machine on hand that they would like to put into mission work? We would appreciate such a gift. We would also like to have the names and addresses of any members or prospects in this area. Remember us in your prayers."

The Coon-O'dowd Debate

Leon Odom, Port Arthur, Texas: "Brother Wilson Coon of Phoenix, Arizona, and brother John O'Dowd of Houston, Texas just closed a six-night debate in Houston, discussing propositions relating to the Orphan Homes and Herald of Truth. The first three nights the discussion was conducted in the meeting house of the Oak Forest congregation and the last three nights at 6601 Laura Koppe Road where brother O'Dowd is the preacher.

Considering the size of Houston and the number of churches in that area, we were disappointed in the attendance. We felt sure that many more would attend the debate than did. The largest part of the attendance at both places was composed of those who oppose such innovations as the so-called Orphan Homes and the Herald of Truth arrangement of preaching the gospel. Only a very few of the preachers who attended held the same position as brother O'Dowd, which is an indication that they are not interested in such discussions of our differences; or else they did not care to have brother John defend their practices — maybe it was both.

The first three nights brother O'Dowd was in the affirmative, the proposition being as follows: "The Scriptures teach that such an arrangement and cooperative efforts on the part of churches of Christ for preaching the gospel as the Herald of Truth is scriptural." In the very outset of the first speech brother O'Dowd began to discuss everything but the proposition. He sailed off into the wild blue yonder, telling the crowd that "these boys are opposed to preaching on the radio," and that "they do not believe that churches can cooperate." He went from here to the many wild charges that characterized him throughout the debate. He made an attack on all of the preachers in the building each night and accused them of being puppets of Roy Cogdill. In every speech that brother O'Dowd made, the main point of his address was an attack on the preachers present and the Gospel Guardian.

Brother Coon tried as best he could to keep O'Dowd on the subject, but found that it was impossible. It was apparent to all present, I am sure, that brother O'Dowd was little interested in a clear investigation of the Scripture. Brother Coon proved with documented evidence that O'Dowd's charges against the Guardian were false and that he owed an apology for his false accusations. Of course, no apology came. Brother Coon again insisted that they discuss the Scriptures and Herald of Truth, as the proposition called for. There were only two passages in the debate that brother O'Dowd used to try to prove church cooperation in the field of evangelism. He argued from Romans 16:16. ". . . the churches of Christ salute you . . ." to prove that churches cooperated in saluting the world. When brother Coon showed the foolishness of this argument, O'Dowd went back to his slandering. Coon pointed out that O'Dowd had the churches of Christ saluting the world and that the Herald of Truth would have to salute the church only, according to the passage. Brother O'Dowd argued that the "world" was saluted in Romans 16:16!

The other passage used was Mark 16:15, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature ..." He argued that the "how" was not important and the "method" likewise was unimportant. Coon, taking off from this argument, showed very clearly that O'Dowd must, then, accept the Missionary Society. Brother Coon very forcefully set forth the idea of congregational independence and challenged his opponent to produce one passage that showed where churches of Christ ever "pooled their resources" to accomplish an evangelistical work. The entire three nights on this subject were taken up by O'Dowd's ranting and raving about church bulletins, Guardian boys, devilish elders, etc. Very little Bible arguments were produced by the affirmative on the Herald of Truth subject.

The last three nights of the debate were conducted, as we have already mentioned, at Laura Koppe Road where brother O'Dowd preaches, and brother Coon was in the affirmative. Brother Coon affirmed that orphan homes, such as Boles Orphan Home, are contrary to the Scriptures. He very masterfully set forth the definition of terms and made crystal clear to the audience just how Boles Home is set up by reading from the original deed. He also read from the charters of Buckner Orphan Home and a Catholic Home to show that they are set up identically, being governed by the powers that be and not by God's law. This makes it a human institution. The negative reply to this first speech consisted mostly of slander and false accusations. Brother Coon came back with a Bible-filled speech to show that the local congregation is the only organization God ordained to do the work of the church. (Acts 14:23; Eph. 3:21; Phil. 1:1; I Peter 5:2.) Brother Coon also pointed out the Bible teaching on the caring for needy saints. (Acts 2:41; 4:32-35; 6:1-4; I Tim. 5:16.) Not one of these passages was touched by brother O'Dowd. In brother O'Dowd's negative speeches the only argument he made was an attempt to parallel the PREACHER'S HOUSE to the ORPHAN HOME of the proposition. Brother Coon pointed out that it would be parallel to a Benevolent Society only if the brethren set up a Preacher's Home Society to which the churches contributed. It was also pointed out that the preacher's house was part of his support.

Of all the debates this writer has attended, or read about, concerning these issues, brother John O'Dowd presented the weakest case. I am sure that I would be safe in saying that at least fifteen minutes of every speech were spent in dealing with different preachers in the brotherhood, which had nothing to do with the propositions.

In the last negative speech, brother O'Dowd introduced new arguments, over the protest of brother Coon. Every scripture given in this speech had to do with the individual's responsibility, but brother Coon had no chance to reply. In spite of the objections, O'Dowd continued to attack the audience and the Guardian and make new arguments.

Brother Wilson Coon, even though little Scripture was introduced by his opponent for him to deal with, was the master of every situation. He conducted his part of the debate as he should have — exposing error and teach-Mg truth. The church of the Lord owes to brother Coon a word of thanks for the able way in which he defended the truth of God Almighty. He truly is a great defender of the faith.

Chester Estes, 502 West Michigan Avenue, Muscle Shoals, Ala.: "For almost four years I have been tied to a new work in Sheffield, and during that time have cancelled all gospel meetings. I will shortly be in a position to book meetings anywhere for the rest of the year. The work at Jackson Highway, Sheffield, continues to make progress. One was baptized recently. We now have a very nice brick building with an auditorium of 40 feet by 70 feet, located on Southern Blvd., with a frontage of 229 feet. When in this area worship with us."

James L. Denison, Box 516, Boling, Texas: "There have been three baptisms at Boling within the last month. The Elmer Moore (Christian)-Marvin Hicks (United Pentecostal) Debate was conducted at Boling on March 23-27. It was well attended and Brother Moore did a masterful job in presenting and defending the truth."

C. D. Plum, 217 So. 1st. Avenue, Paden City, W. Virginia: "Good meeting with brother Dennis just closed. Seven baptized, six restored, three by membership. Splendid preaching and singing. Don't forget my new address. Brethren are treating me here like brethren should treat brethren."

Coon-O'dowd Debate

Luther Blackman: "This is not an attempt to report on the arguments made in the discussion. I only attended one night and heard some more of it on tape. I am writing this for one purpose only. I feel that something should be said to exonerate brother Coon from the charge that he and O'Dowd are "Two of a kind." For whatever it may be worth.

I never saw a man act more in harmony with Christian principles than Wilson Coon did during that discussion, and I am sorry to say that I have never seen a man depart further from them than did John O'Dowd.

Charges will likely be heard that Brother Coon acted ugly in not shaking hands with Brother O'Dowd. But I think that those who were there could see that if there is ever a time when a man is justified in refusing to shake hands with a brother in the Lord, it was here. Brother O'Dowd seems to labor under the impression that in debate a man can falsely charge and slander as many as he may see fit, including his opponent, and then when he steps from the rostrum, summon a big smile and shake hands as if to say, "Now we are friends again, I have made my speech". Coon considered it a display of hypocrisy, and I think rightly so. He simply refused to become a party to such. He was not doing it for spite or anger.

It has not been my privilege to know Wilson Coon very intimately, but if what I saw in this discussion was an indication of his behaviour in preaching and debating, he does not deserve to be thrown into the category with John O'Dowd.

Brother O'Dowd and I have both labored in Houston for many years and have been friends. I have never thought his personal attacks were ethical but have admired him for many things. But his false and slanderous charges against brethren and his refusal to correct them after proof was given that he had so done, was the last straw. I do not think the brethren in attendance, who agreed with his position, will countenance such conduct as this!"

New Congregation Established in Gresham, Oregon: "Gresham, the "garden spot" of all Oregon and the Northwest, famous for its strawberry fields and rose and flower gardens, is the scene of new interest and activity for the church of our Lord in Oregon territory. The young church at Sandy, eleven miles east of Gresham, has announced its intention to establish the Lord's work in the city of Gresham immediately, according to Gerald Long, evangelist. Tentative plans have already been made: an adequate auditorium with adjoining class-room facilities has been leased from the Oregon Grange. It is strategically located just mile east of the Gresham Union High School on Division, one of the main arterial streets into downtown Portland, 15 miles west of Gresham.

As greater Portland's growth gravitates eastward, Gresham becomes more and more the heart of this great metropolitan empire. As well as being noted for its strawberry festivals and floral displays, this young city is becoming the hub of a great industrial belt that is beginning to expand up the Columbia River. Reynolds Aluminum has a large plant only five miles from the heart of Gresham. More than 100,000 people make their homes, till their flower and fruit gardens within a five mile radius of Gresham, under the watchful eye of snowcapped Mt. Hood.

Should you have a desire as did your fore-fathers for a "better country", then we invite you to "hit the Oregon Trail" for Gresham, Oregon; help establish the Lord's work as you live in bounty and beauty, peace and prosperity, surrounded by all that nature has to bestow upon those who love and cherish a "land of opportunity" materially and spiritually.

If you contemplate moving into the Northwest we ask that you investigate the opportunities afforded you in Gresham."